The Next Digital Decade

The Next Digital Decade

Spent the morning today at the E-Biz Forum at the new Gaylord Hotel over at National Harbor. (The Forum, IDEA's annual conference, is designed to help folks in our electrical industry grow their bottom lines and increase productivity through eCommerce programs and technology.) I was delighted late in the morning to get the chance to hear Michael Rogers, the former "futurust in residence" for the NYTimes, who discussed the "Next Digital Decade."

As Rogers observed, the changes in our digital-based society have only begun, "and will accelerate as widespread wireless and new devices create a world of ubiquitous computing, and a new generation, raised from childhood on technology, reaches adulthood." That new generation — the Millennials — already sees the world far differently than Gen Xers or Baby Boomers. (In fact, noted Rogers, digital technology has become so pervasive this decade that Millennials in their teens are already socially distinct from those just in their twenties. The latter are now called "senior Millennials.")

Needless to say, the technology revolution that's altering our society has changed the electrical industry as much as the communications industry. This was neatly illustrated in a story Rogers told about a good friend, a software engineer in Silicon Valley whose 5-year-old son visits both sets of grandparents occasionally. One set of grandparents installed a voice-operated lighting control system throughout their house, and the child immediately showed an appreciation for the new technology. Imagine the other grandparents' surprise, then, when the child visited them and was found standing in a dark hallway, looking up at the lights and shouting repeatedly, "Turn on! Turn on!" Rogers said you could draw two conclusions from this: Our American youth will grow up thinking that anything is possible … or they'll grow up not knowing how to turn the lights on.

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